Brock Huard: Keys to the Game
Aug 27, 2009, 10:51 PM | Updated: Apr 4, 2011, 7:51 pm
By Brock Huard
As I sit on my couch and watch the Eagles and Jaguars battle it out, I am really glad the Hawks are going on the road to play their third pre-season game. This third game is the final tune-up for the starters, and I expect the first group to play into the second half in Kansas City. The team will have to battle the energy and noise and atmosphere of Arrowhead Stadium, and there are a number of key match-ups and situations to keep an eye on, including:
- The tackling of the front seven. Call it dead legs, call it Camp Mora, call it pre-season game number two, call it whatever you want but the front seven didn’t tackle well against the Broncos and must if this team is to have success.
- The number of carries for Julius Jones. Can he stay healthy and is he in condition to be explosive for 10-15 carries? Can the offense have success on first down and present manageable yardage situations on 2nd and 3rd down so the run/pass balance will not be 6 runs to 25 passes as it was in the first half against Denver.
- The Hawks offensive line must get some Chiefs on the ground. Watching those 6 first half runs against Denver, there was not one Bronco on the ground, not one. If this Vallos-led group is to gain any confidence in this run game in their final and most substantial action, a Chief or ten must be chopped down.
- The most competitive positions of camp, WR and DL, will sure be fun to watch and evaluate. Nate Burleson watched Deon Butler make some plays last week and I am sure he wants his touches. Will anyone clearly emerge as the 5th wideout, and with the injury history of Branch and Burleson that 5th WR may be the 3rd WR sooner than later. Will Lawrence Jackson emerge and compete, or will Baraka Atkins and Nick Reed lead the former 1st Round pick to the de-active list come week one.
- Lastly, we know the Hawks have treated this week as a normal regular season practice week and have installed a game-plan for the Chiefs. I am excited to see how aggressive and diverse the schemes are on both sides of that game-plan. Will we see Seneca Wallace on the field with Hasselbeck? Will we see diverse blitz packages and a mixture of Nickel fronts on defense? Will we see a fake punt or FG or onside kick? In my opinion, this is a game to be aggressive and give the Rams plenty to think about come Week One. If I had the whistle around my neck it would be a lot less about hiding my schemes and looks, and much more about putting multiple looks and schemes on video for St Louis to prepare for.
No need to be out of character and deviate from the systems and techniques installed over the last three weeks, but this is the game to be the aggressor and attack. Hit the Chiefs in the mouth with the run game, tackle well defensively, hit play-action shots down the field, and instill some confidence and swagger in the process, that’s the key for Saturday Night.